Were you ever that kid in class? You know the one I mean; the one with all the questions and the smart retorts. The one who always knew better than the teachers and was out to prove it.
I imagine the lawyer in Matthew 22 to be that kid. He knows this Jesus guy is full of baloney and he’s going to prove it; publicly and without shame. Can you imagine being a Pharisee AND a lawyer? This man probably filled out forms in triplicate just to get out of bed in the morning. Order and law was this man’s bread and butter, literally and spiritually. I can imagine him approaching Jesus with his rationale so water tight, complete with footnotes and appendices, that it would float. He was probably brimming with confidence that he could shoot holes in whatever response Jesus gave him, proving that this “man” was an impostor and not his Messiah.
And so he approached, asked and received his answer.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
No lectures. No debates. No detailed treatises complete with footnotes and appendices. Just love. It must have shaken these by-the-book Pharisees to the core.
How often do we forget that everything depends on these two commandments? How often do we look for the answers in all our rules and regulations, our rituals and prayers, but lose sight of the bigger picture?
Are my actions showing love for my neighbor? Am I treating them as I would wish to be treated? Is my life guided by a love of God?
Is a love of God and my fellow man the root of my being?
Jesus does not say that our law, our traditions, and our rituals are wrong (though he has more to say to the Pharisees later on this subject), but that all our actions, our traditions, our celebrations must be rooted in the love of God as our foundation. God must be our rock and our fortress which guides our every action. Without that love for God supporting and guiding us our actions, our traditions, our very words are empty. When the love of God is our base, all of our actions big and small fall into place. When the love of God drives us the care of our families becomes in itself an act of love. Our prayers become an act of love. Work, play, church, happiness, and sorrow all become an endless, seamless act of love.
Today, let us not be afraid to reexamine the foundation of our faith. Push away all your false foundations and cling to the rock that is God’s love.
Molly Walter is a wife, mother and homemaker (with a pesky job outside the home). She writes at Molly Makes Do about making the life she wants with the life she’s been given. You can find out more about her here.